Search Engine Optimization October 18th, 2019
One question I often hear from small business owners is this: “These industry leaders have built up their websites over many years. They have pages dedicated to many topics already. They have more resources than I do. And in many cases, we are talking about similar products and services – how am I supposed to compete on Google?”
I tell these business owners the same thing: once you have developed the core pages of your website, you can, and will, compete with the industry giants and succeed in doing so. But they have to act quickly and decisively and choose their battles carefully. We’ll discuss how small businesses can go about doing that; how small business David can defeat big business Goliath in the Google search results.
Do you know what everyone loves about big companies more than anything? The bureaucracy.
Think of lengthy approval processes, administrative delays, and so many rules and regulations. Here, small business owners are at an advantage, and they must capitalize. Specifically, when a newsworthy event happens, a social media trend takes off, or a new product or service gains popularity; a small business owner must be ready to respond. Larger businesses often utilize marketing plans and content strategies that were signed-off well in advance by corporate. So, they may struggle to pivot when the time calls for it. But not the small business owner.
Here’s an example: this summer, hard seltzer sales skyrocketed. Hard seltzer companies saw sales increase by double digits in a matter of months. Soon after, you could find these beverages everywhere, from barbeques and college campuses to memes and parody videos.
If David’s Corner Store can write about this trend faster than the LCBO (to use a Canadian example), he can channel the increase in online searches towards his business. By the time the LCBO’s fall magazine mentions the trend, everyone’s already searched Google to see what all the fuss is. If David can write enough quality content about hard seltzer – the best flavours, the most nutritious options, and a local corner store where you can find them – he’s putting himself in a powerful position. He’s capitalizing on consumer interest and improving his online rankings in the process.
Bonus Tip: Here at TechWyse, we’re big fans of the content research tool BuzzSumo. If you’re onto a big trend in your industry, you can use it for ideas for your next article.
As a consumer, I like to compare products side by side. I want to know the price, main features, and the pros and cons of a product or service from two competitors; then I’ll make a decision.
Bigger businesses often shy away from direct, comparative online articles. And instead, I often have to rely on online reviews and word of mouth. Why is that? They may have existing relationships that discourage them from comparison articles. They may just exercise quite a bit of caution in this regard. But as a small business, you’re far less likely to ruffle feathers or attract negative attention by comparing competing brands and products.
So I’d encourage small businesses to create fact-driven articles comparing big brands and comparing some of their products.
So David’s Corner Store should write content that compares the nutrition information of different providers, blogs that rank the best and worst flavours, and articles that recommend seltzers with different foods and settings. As a result, they’ll holistically cover the emerging trend and appear more often, and higher up in the search results, in a way that a conflicted, risk-averse corporation never could.
Bonus Tip: When you’re ready to write about the newest trend in your industry, the tone and voice you use in your writing is important. You can learn more here about what consumers expect from companies online.
An important point to emphasize: small business David can beat super corporation Goliath in the search results, but they have to pick their battles carefully.
After all, if Goliath has a massive content team that can churn out articles in a matter of days, what can David do? Here’s where I recommend exploring a niche market – and using long-tail keywords to go about that.
That’s because when those more prominent companies begin writing about a new trend – by the time they discover it – they typically provide overviews and broad outlines. This is before they even think about diving into the specifics. By the time the LCBO sees the hard seltzer trend, they’ll discover on Google’s Keyword Planner that keywords like “hard seltzer,” “spiked seltzer,” and “white claw drink” are generating high monthly search volumes.
Sidenote: It’s rare to see a specific company strongly associating itself with a product; this is a credit to how quickly White Claw has grown over the past few months. When you’re growing that quickly, word of mouth publicity and memes do the work for your marketing department!
From there, LCBO and other larger companies will likely write more broad, general articles about the hard seltzer, like how its rise occurred, or how industry analysts are reacting. If David’s looking to compete here, he should look to specific areas and dig deeper than the competition.
While “hard seltzer” and “spiked seltzer” may not be worth competing for, keywords like “healthiest hard seltzer,” “low-calorie seltzer alcohol,” and “spiked seltzer new flavours” do have search volume. If LCBO beat David to the punch and write about the rise of hard seltzer, he’s not out of options just yet. He can create content exploring the healthiest hard seltzer brands and the most nutritious new flavours. Then, he might not need to compete directly with the Goliaths. And he will still take advantage of the rise of the latest trend.
Bonus Tip: So what keywords do you rank for, that the big businesses don’t? And similarly, what topics do your competitors rank for, that you don’t? A great new tool from Ahrefs called the Content Gap answers this exact question. It’s a great way to identify the keywords that can further separate you from the competition.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this, it’s that your website needs content that reflects your expertise. This can be about your products, your experience, or your recommendations. There’s no reason small businesses shouldn’t be able to reflect that, if not more, than corporations and chains!
That’s where your speed, flexibility, and willingness to choose your battles can help you dominate the Google search results.
So if you notice that sales of a particular product are rising fast, then talk about it! And if you notice that customers are asking a question consistently, then write about it! Soon enough, you’ll be able to make progress on Google. And the big, bloated behemoths that you’re competing with won’t notice – until it’s too late.